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In disparate-treatment discrimination suits, the elements of a plaintiff's case are the same whether that case is brought under 42 U.S.C.S. § 1981, 42 U.S.C.S. § 1983, or Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, 42 U.S.C.S. § 2000e et seq. To prevail under a disparate-treatment theory, a plaintiff must show, through either direct or indirect evidence, that the discrimination complained of was intentional.
Plaintiffs are hispanic employees of the City of Altus, Oklahoma (City). They appeal the district court's grant of summary judgment dismissing all their claims against the City, the City Administrator, and the Street Commissioner (collectively referred to as Defendants). All claims arise out of the City's English-only policy for its employees. Asserting claims of both disparate-impact and disparate-treatment, the employees contend that the English-only policy discriminates against them on the basis of race and national origin in violation of Titles VI and VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, 42 U.S.C. §§ 2000d-2000e. They also claim intentional discrimination under the Civil Rights Act of 1866, 42 U.S.C. § 1981. Finally, the employees bring claims under the Civil Rights Act of 1871, 42 U.S.C. § 1983, arguing that the policy deprives them of equal protection and freedom of speech. The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) and the American Civil Liberties Union of Oklahoma Foundation each filed amicus briefs in support of the employees.
Did the district court err in dismissing the employees' claims against the City alleging disparate impact and disparate treatment under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act, intentional discrimination under § 1981, and denial of equal protection under § 1983?
The court of appeals held that (1) the employees' claim that the policy violated Title VI was properly dismissed because there was no evidence the employees' salaries were paid with federal money; (2) the employees presented enough evidence to show that the City's policy created a disparate impact and that City officials intended to discriminate against Hispanic employees to survive summary judgment, and the employees' claims alleging disparate treatment under Title VII, intentional discrimination under 42 U.S.C.S. § 1981, and denial of equal protection should not have been dismissed; (3) the evidence was not sufficient to show that defendants committed illegal retaliation or violated the employees' rights under the First Amendment; and (4) City officials were entitled to qualified immunity on the employees' claims under 42 U.S.C.S. §§ 1981 and 1983.